PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) – Thirteen people were killed and 10 wounded on Tuesday in a bomb attack, claimed by the Taliban, on an air force bus in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar, police said.
Pakistani Taliban said the blast, the latest in a series of attacks on security forces over the past year, was in response to military operations against al Qaeda and Taliban militants.
The attack followed days of fighting, including air strikes, between militants and security forces in the Bajaur region, a militant hot spot north of Peshawar. About 150 militants, including a senior al Qaeda member, have been killed.
“We warned that if they didn’t stop killing our people … we would strike back and we did,” Taliban spokesman Maulvi Omar told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.
“We will continue such attacks until they stop military operations against our people.”
The blast took place on the outskirts of Peshawar, capital of North West Frontier Province, when the bus drove over a bridge on its way to the city.
A Reuters reporter at the scene said the bus had burnt through and a hole had been blasted in the bridge.
Provincial police chief Malik Naveed Khan said the dead included five air force personnel and eight civilians.
Since July last year, Pakistan has suffered a wave of militant violence in which hundreds of people have been killed, including many members of the security forces.
Violence subsided after a coalition government led by the party of slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was formed following February elections and opened negotiations with militants through intermediaries.
But the lull ended and militants stepped up attacks after their top leader, Baitullah Mehsud, suspended talks in June.